The Unbeatable Backlog

Friday, December 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

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I saw the monster again last night.

Every time I sit down to play a new game, it rears its ugly head. I'm not talking about some beastly creature with glowing red eyes, grasping claws and gnashing teeth, but it's certainly a horror I've grown to know well and fear completely. It's humongous, nasty and damn-near impossible to kill.


Some call it "The Unscalable Mountain." In parts of India it's known as "The Growing Fiend." I met a guy in Georgia once who called it "Harpo."


To the rest of us, it's simply known as "The Backlog."


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Law & Order: Legacies Chock-Full of Truths and Lies [Review]

Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm
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Lennie and Rey - brains of the game.
If you've been meaning to investigate the Law & Order TV franchise, the latest game based on it is a great way to start your case. Law & Order: Legacies, now available for iPad and iPhone, is a mash-up featuring lead characters from Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the like. We've reviewed Episode 1, in which Rey Curtis and Olivia Benson team-up on a case that exposes a Russian media mogul, following new leads after a courtroom shooting. Also making appearances are Jack McCoy, Michael Cutter and Lennie Briscoe.

With the evidence we have, we could make the case for buying Law & Order: Legacies. Check our investigations after the jump.

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Leather-Bound Punches Unrelated to Bondage: Hitman

Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 11:00 am
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Sometimes, I just want to punch the metacritic right in its metajewels. 

It might require something along the lines of Agent Smith speed to do it in any sort of timely manner, but I'm up to the task. Only my ungarroteable zeal for the Hitman series could push me to such extremes given that each entry in that pantheon of awesomeness consistently seems to get low scores from this hydra beast of pretentiousness and FPS bias. ("There's a camera following him and I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT DIMENSION I'M IN! 7.9/10 for making me wet myself.") 


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Remixing Yarns: Our 2011 Chatter about Narratives

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm
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Limbo's narrative is ripe for analysis.
In the last six months, James Hawkins and I have meditated on narratives in such video games as Limbo, Batman: Arkham City, Bastion and Bioshock. The reader responses to our Unraveling Yarns series have been fantastic, often furthering whatever yarn we've started rolling. Your comments, dear community, give it mileage.    

As 2011 comes to a close, today's installment revisits those conversations. Join us after the jump.
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A Quick, Angry Note on the Ocean Marketing Debacle

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm
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If you haven't been keeping up with current events in the gaming sphere, you've probably missed the Ocean Marketing scandal that's currently blowing up the internet. Essentially, a PR guy acted like an asshole, performed poor customer service, and threatened Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade publicized the event and the loyal troops rallied to harass and embarass this guy for his misdeeds. Here's a pretty decent layout of the situation.

This morning, another email thread went viral, with Paul (the PR prick) asking for the Penny Arcade crew to stop the onslaught of vitriol that had kept him up all night. Gabe from Penny Arcade wrote this about it, saying that he caught a bully being a bully, and that this internet justice was, essentially, teaching a bully a great lesson.

And I've followed it pretty closely this whole time. Being on Twitter, on Facebook, and having to stay privy to the gaming culture's buzz, I've been watching it since it started. And I am totally appalled by this culture I consider myself a part of.


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Game Comics- Mega Man Vol. 1: Let the Games Begin

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Holy Frijoles- the Blue Bomber is a quarter century old! Capcom's Mega Man franchise. Eleventy billion games strong,  (how many of you have played Mega Man Soccer? Scratch that- how many of you are willing to admit publicly you have played Mega Man Soccer?), full of crazy, easily marketable characters, has had middling success in other media in the past 25 years.. Old fogeys like me, who have been playing the series from the beginning, still remember his television debut, on Captain N: the Game Master. A middling animated series in the mid-90s failed to catch on.

Capcom's Mega Buster wielding mecha-assassin has been taking plenty hits of late, most notably the company canceling Mega Man Legends 3 even after soliciting fan opinion for the game, and letting it stay dead even after prodigal son Kenji Inafune offered his services to finish it. One of the bright spots, surprisingly, ha s been the new comic book incarnation from an unlikely source- Archie Comics. While Mega Man Vol. 1: Let the Games Begin is first and foremost a book for a young audience, even my 30something-old self was able to get some enjoyment out of it. More >>

What Was Your Biggest Disappointment Of 2011?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 10:00 am
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This year had a lot of HUGE stuff in it. About a thousand AAA blockbusters, some notable indies, and (in my opinion) a whole lot of disappointment. Pretty much through-and-through, I thought this year had nothing on the past few, and that what was supposed to be the dopest of the dope ended up being not that tight.

I say this because I wasn't that into Battlefield 3, I wasn't that into CODMW3, and I haven't played many games that have beckoned me as I slept. I haven't really stayed up late burning through some lofty climactic narrative trope, and I haven't completed a game and started back over immediately because I was so in love with it. That, to me, is a disappointment.

So let's talk. What bummed you out? I'll bring up some of mine on the other end of the link.


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Ten Slimiest Politicians in Video Games: Part 1

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm

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Press up on the D-pad to indict!

My friends, my fellow gamers, it's the most magical time of the year.

That's right. That magical time when people can smell the pine needles and the general lust for power in the air. That season where everyone seems nicer than usual, and those nice people show ads on your TV telling you exactly who wants to destroy America. It's that wondrous, festive time when folks wait with bated breath to see if Santa's left them the most precious gift of all: a functioning democracy.

It's primary season! In a little over a week the ponderous, silly wheels of American presidential politics will begin their quadrennial trundle down the hillside of freedom -- beginning with Iowa's caucuses on January 3rd.

So, in honor of another cycle, we're compiling a list of ten of the slimiest politicians in video game history. They take bribes, they kill for influence, and sometimes they are actually huge monsters taking a human form simply for convenience (OLD GAME SPOILERS AHEAD). But whatever their deal, you wouldn't want them in the Oval Office.

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The Lost Art of the Sidequest

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm
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As games have been opening up to a wider audience, one of the challenges is providing content that several different people can enjoy. A crude line in the sand is usually drawn between "casual" and "hardcore" games but the most effective way appealing to everyone is by adding extra content on top of an accessible minimum. In other words, the sidequest.

Sidequests make good games great. Most solid games are playable to just about anyone, but to really pull a player in, to give them a chance to finish up and walk away and have them choose to play on and get more is the sign of a great game. It's already been written plenty elsewhere but the power of games lies in the close relationship between the audience and the work. If the audience can end a story but decides not to because of their intimacy with it than it speaks to the strength of the work. But sidequests can be fickle creatures and they seem more prone to making cumbersome distractions rather than added depth.



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What Did Dear Santa Claus Bring You For Christmas?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 10:00 am
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Well, we made it folks. We're past Christmas -- well, past most major religious/secular celebratory gift-giving days of this year. Next we got New Year's Eve (or, as I call it, "Drink Champagne Till You Puke And Surprise Kiss Random People Then Run Away Before The Pepper Spray Comes Out" Day). Between the two, we've got a week to explore all our new goodies that have been given to us before we have to resume a long and holiday-less season.

This Christmas netted me NOTHING video game related, except for a Nook Tablet. Which is totally dope, don't get me wrong (I love it!), but I'm going to use that for reading, mainly. Because if there's something I don't do enough anymore, it's read. My family realizes that I get almost every game I am itching to play for free-zy from publishers, so they can buy me actually thoughtful, practical presents like nice sweaters and warm bed linens and all that. I got my brothers game-related stuff though -- to one I got a pre-order code for Mass Effect 3 Collector's Edition, and the other I got a guide to Skyward Sward. Not bad a haul, right?

So, I apologize that I don't have anything particularly pertinent to discuss with you that I personally received, but I would love to hear what you all got! And if you have any recommendations, I would find that lovely. Happy holidays people.